Update: The Celtics have become the fourth team in NBA history to force a Game 7 after going down 3-0, beating the Heat 104-103 on a late tip-in shot from Derrick White in Game 6. Boston will be the first team to have a home Game 7 among the teams that have come back from a 3-0 deficit.
Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals will tip off tonight at 8:30 p.m. ET as the Boston Celtics head back down face the Miami Heat. After going down 0-3, the Celtics have rallied to win the next two games and cut the deficit to 3-2 in this best-of-seven series. And now, they stand just one win away from forcing a decisive Game 7 in Boston on Monday.
No team in NBA playoff history has ever come all the way back from a 3-0 deficit to win a series, but three teams have come close. The 1951 New York Knicks, the 1994 Denver Nuggets, and the 2003 Portland Trail Blazers are the only teams in league history to force a Game 7 after trailing 3-0 in a series.
The 1951 Knicks went down 3-0 to the Rochester Royals in that year’s NBA Finals before storming back to rip off three straight victories. However, New York couldn’t seal the deal in Game 7 and lost a 79-75 nail-biter back in Rochester.
The 1994 Nuggets had already made history in the first round of that year’s playoffs, knocking off the Seattle SuperSonics to become the first No. 8 seed to ever topple a No. 1 seed in NBA history. After going down 3-0 to Karl Malone, John Stockton, and the Utah Jazz, the Dikembe Mutombo-led Nuggets rattled off three straight close wins to force a Game 7 in Salt Lake City. That’s where their good fortune ran out as Malone dropped 31 points and 14 rebounds to close them out in a 91-81 victory for the Jazz.
The 2003 Trail Blazers went down 3-0 against Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, and the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of that year’s playoffs. However, Zach Randolph was able to carry the team back into the series and a 125-103 blowout victory in Game 6 tied it at 3-3. The Blazers ultimately stall out in Game 7 as Nowitzki dropped 31 points and 11 rebounds in a 107-95 victory for the Mavs.